Bill Frindall dies aged 69
The BBC's Test Match Special scorer and renowned statistician, Bill Frindall, has died aged 69 after contracting Legionnaire's disease while on a cricket tour to Dubai.
Frindall had scored and played on the trip and was thought to be suffering from flu when he returned to England on January 20. But his condition worsened and he failed to recover after a lung collapsed last weekend.
Frindall was a fixture of Test Match Special since 1966, when he took over from Arthur Wrigley, the BBC's long-standing scorer. Known as the Bearded Wonder, Frindall quickly became renowned for his accuracy and statistical interjections live on air. A very good bowler in his youth, he was introduced to scoring while still at school, deputising for someone at his local club.
After spending six-and-a-half years in the RAF he was given a trial-run at the BBC of three matches, which he passed with flying colours. He later went on to work with John Arlott, whom he wrote of fondly in his 2006 autobiography, Bearders: My Life in Cricket, and Brian Johnston. His producer for 34 years, Peter Baxter, spoke to Cricinfo of Frindall's remarkable longevity.
"When I joined in 1966 he was already there, it was his first season, and he was still there when I left so he was easily the longest serving member of the team," Baxter, who retired in 2007, said. "He had a dry, laconic sense of humour and was very quick to spot the possible pun. Brian Johnston was another and he almost created Bill as a character; Brian needed props and Bill was a straight man for him."
Away from the TMS box he edited the pocket-sized Playfair Cricket Annual for 23 editions - the traditional accompaniment to the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack - as well as a host of other books. He campaigned for cricket at all levels, too, as President of British Blind Sport and he was a very active member of the Lord's Taverners since 1972. "He was a great supporter of cricket in his local area," added Baxter. "He carried on playing as well, although the bowling wasn't quite as quick as it once might have been."
His colleague and friend, Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's cricket correspondent, said Frindall brought cricket scoring alive. "This is what Bill will always be remembered for," Agnew told the BBC. "The weird world of cricket scoring to many people is incredibly dull but Bill made it interesting; he made it lively."
Matthew Patten, the chief executive of the Lord's Taverners, told Cricinfo: "We are all very very sad about it. Bill was a long time supporter of the Lord's Taverners both in his playing and commentating capacity and we feel for his family.
"Bill was a regular part of Taverners' cricket tours, which he described as being 'rather special'," Patten added. "He relished having opened the batting with Jack Robertson, taking guard against John Snow and Dennis Lillee and bowling to Reg Simpson with Godfrey Evans behind the stumps."
Tributes also came from the England squad currently touring West Indies. "Bill Frindall was renowned for the sheer breadth of his knowledge and the deep and lasting affection he had for the game of cricket itself," Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, said. "He will be much missed not only by millions of radio listeners worldwide but also by the fraternity of cricketing scorers in England and Wales whose work he did so much to champion.
"On behalf of the many past and present England players who considered him a good friend, I would like to send our condolences to his family."
In 2004 Frindall was awarded the MBE for his services to the sport.